From A to Zed: A Case Study of CSU's 1st Undergraduate "Z-Major"

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session uses the Communication program at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) as a case study to explain how it become one of the CSU’s first undergraduate “Z-Majors.” The session will conclude by engaging the audience in ways this effort can be extended to additional universities beyond CSUCI.


J. Jacob Jenkins, PhD is an Associate Professor at California State University Channel Islands, Campus Coordinator for the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions initiative, and current OER Research Fellow for the Open Education Group. Jenkins received his B.A. in Architecture from Drury University and Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from the University of South Florida. He has been teaching full-time since 2005. During this period, Jenkins has published over 40 journal articles, book chapters, and reference works focused on community building within diverse cultural settings. His work has received national honors from the Carl Couch Institute, Waterhouse Family Institute, CMM Institute for Social Evolution, and National Communication Association, to name but a few. His current work centers on issues of student equity, and the use of Open Education Resources (OERs) to improve student success, retention, and graduation rates. He is especially passionate about uses of educational innovation to reduce barriers for historically underserved populations (i.e., racial/ethnic minorities, low-income students, and first-generation college students).
Jaime Hannans Ph.D., RN, CNE is Associate Professor of Nursing at CSU Channel Islands. She obtained her BSN and MSN from CSU Chico, and Ph.D. from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.With over 18 years critical care and float pool clinical experience, Dr. Hannans teaches medical-surgical, gerontology, and critical care content in online, blended, or on-ground courses. This year, she is one of 26 faculty across the 23 campuses awarded the CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award for her work exploring and sharing innovative teaching and learning practices, including projects related to digital badges, open educational resources, open courses, digital storytelling, extended reality (augmented, virtual and mixed), and best practices in online and blended teaching-learning. Her commitment to student success, particularly for low-income first-generation students, is highlighted by her role as the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) Campus Co-Coordinator. Her research interests and publications focus on technology in teaching and learning, open educational resources and textbook affordability for student success, digital mediums for online/blended learning, nursing simulation, and augmented, mixed and virtual reality experiences to enhance learning.
Jill M. Leafstedt, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Innovation and Senior Academic Technology Officer at CSU Channel Islands. In this role, Jill guides faculty development and academic technology. She is also a Professor of Education and spent 11 years designing curriculum to prepare special education teachers.

Extended Abstract

This proposed session uses the Communication program at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) as a case study example to explain how it become one of the CSU’s first undergraduate “Z-Majors” (i.e., majors that offer students a zero-cost pathway through the entire curriculum via OERs). More specifically, this session will use Everett Rogers’ (1962/2003) diffusion of innovations theory to detail the 5-step process CSUCI took from the start of “openCI” in Fall 2016 to the launch of Communication’s Z-Major in Fall 2018. (1) Step one of this process involved a university-wide approach to recruiting faculty “innovators” from across all areas of campus. (2) Step two included a cohort-style “Ambassador Program 2.0” that focused on “early adopters,” and the identification of specific programs where these early adopters had created a natural groundswell of support. (3) Step three concentrated on the Communication program by analyzing its entire curriculum class-by-class. (4) Step four involved developing and implementing a program-level Action Plan for Communication that removed any remaining barriers to it becoming a “Z-Major.” (5) Step five focused on scaling Communication’s Z-Major efforts in a sustainable way, while mindfully celebrating the faculty members’ collective achievements. After offering a brief timeline of major events and further detailing the aforementioned five-step process, we will use the session's final 10 minutes to engage audience members in both Q&A and group discussion. Discussion topics will include - but are not limited to - sustainability, scalability, cross-campus and intercampus collaboration, etc. In order to foster audience engagement, they will be asked to consider their own institutions: (1) specific barriers they have or would expect to experience in initiating their own Z-Major, (2) with protential strategies for addressing those barriers, (3) ways in which this case study's 5-step process might be applied to additional programs beyond CSUCI, and so on.